It seemed to be McCann’s easiest kick of the night.
The junior was set for a 25-yard field goal attempt, shorter than any of the four he’d kicked previously Saturday. This time, though, McCann was kicking for the game.
Missouri had blown a 10-point fourth quarter lead and had almost given up a go-ahead touchdown, but Purdue settled for a field goal to tie the game 37-37.
Drew Lock took a knee to get the ball to the middle of the field, Barry Odom called a timeout with three seconds left, and out ran McCann for the biggest play of night.
McCann didn’t let a blocked kick earlier phase him, kicking the ball through the uprights to give Missouri (3-0) a 40-37 win over the Boilermakers (0-3) in West Lafayette.
The Tigers early offensive struggles were foreshadowed by a dropped pass by Emanuel Hall.
The receiver broke free for what should have been another deep touchdown connection between him and Lock, but the ball bounced out of his hands for an incompletion. A Jalen Knox 18-yard reception went for a first down, but Missouri settled for a field goal to go up 3-0.
On the first of Purdue’s first possession, the Tigers’ already questionable secondary took a hit. DeMarkus Acy went for a tackle on the Boilermakers’ Rondale Moore, but he led with his head and ended up needing help off the field. David Blough immediately attacked Acy’s replacement, Terry Petry, with a 50-yard gain and a 12-yard touchdown to put Purdue ahead.
Lock finally figured out the deep connection after back-to-back punts, hitting Hall with a 42-yard pass onthe first play of the drive. Four plays later, Lock hit Johnathon Johnson with a 21-yard touchdown, giving Missouri a 10-7 lead.
Going into Saturday, Blough was just 18 of 26 for 122 yards and no touchdowns, which seemingly gave the Tigers the clear advantage at quarterback. For most of the first half, though, Blough looked like Lock’s equal.
The Boilermakers relied on Blough’s arm more than they had through the first two weeks, and he rewarded them with 284 yards and two touchdowns on 18 completions in the half. Lock, for comparison’s sake, ended the half with 16 completions for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
After Missouri built a 27-10 lead with seven minutes in the half, Blough again showed why Purdue’s air game shouldn’t have been doubted.
Blough led his squad down the field on back-to-back Boilermaker possessions, punching a 1-yard run in himself on the first and completing a 3-yard touchdown to Brycen Hopkins to cut the lead to three heading to the half.
With a defense struggling to keep Purdue out of the end zone, Missouri needed a spark to keep the Boilermakers at bay.
Enter Brandon Lee.
Whether the senior, who was suspended for the first half after a targeting penalty against Wyoming, really did energize the Tigers is anyone’s guess, but the defense almost immediately started to clamp down throughout the third.
Despite allowing Blough to drive the ball all the way to Missouri’s 3-yard line, a tackle for a loss by Cale Garrett and a sack by Chris Turner kept Purdue to just a game-tying field goal. On the next Boilermaker possession, a pass break up by Christian Holmes on 4th and 1 gave the Tigers the ball back at midfield.
But when Missouri built up a 10 point lead heading into the final quarter, bad luck reared its ugly head.
Blough threw a deep ball that was broken up by Garrett, but the ball bounced off of Cam Hilton’s helmet right into the hands of Brycen Hopkins for a 72-yard gain. Rondale Moore punched it in on the next play, and Purdue was back within three.
The Tigers then had a chance to make it a two score game. They couldn’t do much to start and had to punt, but an illegal substitution gifted Missouri another chance. It wouldn’t help, as Lock threw his first interception of the season to give the Boilermakers the ball back. An overturned touchdown reception for Jared Sparks led to another game-tying field goal, and Lock was back on the field with 3:28 left.
Lock and Tyler Badie led the Tigers down to the Purdue 7, McCann connected on the game winner and Missouri leaves West Lafayette with an anxiety-generating win.